How to Stain Wood

Understanding how to stain wood is not difficult. The following instructions will show you how this can be done.

Required Tools and Materials

Clean lint free rags
Spray gun

Step 1

Place several newspapers around you so the work area is protected. If you can set the temperature between 70 and 75 F, do it. Stain can dry in other temperatures, but 70 to 75 F is ideal for drying.

Step 2

Brush the debris off the object to be stained. Or you can sand it until smooth. A smooth wood is necessary for most oil based stains.

Step 3

Dampen the wood with a paintbrush. This will enable the stain to spread uniformly.

Step 4

Apply the stain with the paintbrush or the rag. As a rule, rags are best used for staining flat surfaces. The brushes are ideal for the irregularly shaped areas, molding and carvings.

Step 5

If you are just learning how to stain wood, remember the spray gun is best suited for alcohol based stains. If the wood object is too large for a sprayer, immerse the object in a stain bath for five minutes. The stain bath is also ideal for objects with intricate details sprays cannot reach.

Step 6

Use paper towels to remove any excessive stain.

Step 7

Let the stain dry then put on another coat. The extra coat will cover up any patchy spots. Top it off with varnish. You can also use wood polish to preserve the stain.

Choosing the Right Stain

There are many types of wood stain available. Pick the one that best matches the object you are working on. The wood type and density should be taken into consideration. Keep in mind that alcohol based stains will dry rapidly. This may or may not be to your liking.

If you want to emphasize the color, water soluble stains are ideal.
Water based stains are also ideal for indoor furniture. For example, they are perfect for cabinets, bookcases and desks. Water based stains also make it easy to modify the colors. The oil based stains are perfect for outdoor furniture.


For outdoor furniture, tung oil is a good finish. Remember too that not all furniture will require sanding. Most oil based stains take 60 minutes to dry.

For those studying how to stain wood, it is best to work with wood scraps first. Check how the stain reacts to the wood. You will also be able to determine how much extra stain comes on.

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